Modern Chinese Societies - SOCI7090

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


This module will provide students with a well-rounded assessment of modern China, with particular emphasis on events since the 1978 Open Door Policy initiated by Deng Xiaoping. The module first introduces students with key sociological concepts related to Chinese traditional society, then move onto major events that form state-society relations in the past three decades. The bulk of the module will explore a range of contemporary issues, which include:

• One country, two systems and four worlds: Diversity and social gaps in modern China
• The broken 'iron rice bowl': Social mobility and the welfare system since 1980s
• The Me Generation: The rise and individualization of China's new middle class
• New social media and the 'Great Fire Wall'
• Zao: The making of consumption culture within the World's factory
• Bit player or the new powerhouse? China’s struggle with scientific innovations
• The triumph of paintings: Social protests and the Chinese art scene
• From ping-pong diplomacy to Linsanity: Sports and modern Chinese identity
• The greening of China: The social cost of industrialization and grassroots environmental movements
• The 'sea turtles’ (overseas-returns) and Chinese diaspora: An alternative imagination of Chineseness
• 'All under Heaven’ (Tianxia) reinterpreted: China in a globalized world


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 22
Private study hours: 128
Total study hours: 150 hours


Optional module for SSPSSR bachelor degrees including
BA Sociology and Sociology joint honours bachelor degrees

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

Coursework –essay (2000 words) – 40%
Coursework – essay (2500 words) – 50%
Coursework –seminar presentation – 10%

Reassessment methods

100% coursework

Indicative reading

Barr, M (2011) Who's Afraid of China? Zed Books
Bergstrom, M (2012) All Eyes East: Lessons from the Front Lines of Marketing to China's Youth. Palgrave Macmillan
Fei, X (1992) From the Soil: The Foundations of Chinese Society. University of California Press
Gittings, J (2006) The Changing Face of China: From Mao to Market. Oxford University Press
Hansen, M. H., & Svarverud, R. (2010). iChina: The rise of the individual in modern Chinese society. NIAS Press.
Shirk, S.L (2011) Changing Media, Changing China. Oxford University Press
Stockman, N (2000) Understanding Chinese Society. Polity Press
Vine, R (2011) New China New Art. Prestel
Yan, Y (2009) The Individualization of Chinese Society. BERG
Zha, J (1996) China Pop: How Soap Operas, Tabloids and Bestsellers are Transforming a Culture. The New Press
Zhang, J.Y (2012) The Cosmopolitanization of Science: Stem Cell Governance in China. Palgrave Macmillan

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

8.1 Understand the key actors, social structures and evolving state-society relations in modern China.
8.2 Have insight into the domestic and global context which shaped contemporary China's general social mindsets.
8.3 Comprehend key Chinese sociological concepts and be able to apply different sociological theories in analysing pop cultures, news items,
research evidence and official data.
8.4 Critically evaluate the assumptions of major sociological theories in relation to contemporary social processes.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

9.1 Have developed enhanced communication skills through essays and seminars.
9.2 Have developed the ability to search and critically evaluate research data, including web-based materials.
9.3 Possess skills in synthesising case, theories and arguments in a coherent manner.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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